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Elderly Greek lady's house, Northcote, 2015

Presented by David Wadelton

Ruckers Hill, 1976 Looking toward the city from High Street. The petrol price is 54.7c a gallon « A bookie lived in that brick house you can see over on the southern corner of Clarke St. » « I remember when it was an Ampol servo and then a Bob Jane discount fuel outlet that sold super petrol at 45 cents per gallon (less than 10c per litre), It used to cost $5 to fill the tank of my first car. When that servo changed from Ampol to Bob Jane, checking the oil and water and cleaning the windscreen became a thing of the past. » « The thing I remember most about the smaller servos before they became mini supermarkets, was the inevitable smell of oil and rubber in the shop area if you ever went inside, which wasn’t often because the attendant took your cash [remember that stuff?] at the bowser and brought the change back. »

Dot, in her Charles Street Newsagency, 2010 Dot worked in the newsagency all her life - as did her parents before her. Dot passed away in 2012. « I always made a point of stopping at her shop for the newspapers. Come rain, hail or shine she could often be seen outside the shop looking up and down the street. I don’t think her shop even had a till. She was a true digger was Dot. I miss her. » « I used to fill in for her at the shop in her later years if she had some business to do and I nearly froze to death. I would have to sit over the heater for ages to thaw out. On a good day she was brilliant for learning about local history, particularly things that happened years ago. Her father was an SP Bookie and she was his look out. »

Jim & Pam in their High Street Fish & Chip shop, 2014 Jim & Pam ran their Fish & Chip shop in High Street for almost half a century, finally closing in 2015 « Pam once told me she fell for Jim because he was a rebel, I loved that! » « They are extraordinary. Every time I go there it’s like you’re their first customer not the millionth. » « I’m sure they were there before ‘75, use to buy my lunch from there in grade 4 (1974). We use to then go to Jack’s next door for some pinball. » « When l went to Northcote High l bought fish and chips from them on the late 60s couldn’t believe when l called in a few years ago and they are still there. I spoke to them about those days. Pam doesn't seem to age much. Amazing to still see them there. Good burgers plenty of practice. » « Used to go past here in year 11 in 1990 wagging school from NHS with my boyfriend and get a Flake roll wrapped in glad wrap from the Bain Marie that used to be in the front window. Said boyfriend, now long time husband, and I had dinner here with our 4 kids 2 weeks ago. I had a Flake roll. The more things change... »


Ruckers Hill, 1976

Dot, in her Charles Street Newsagency, 2010

Jim & Pam in their High Street Fish & Chip shop, 2014


The corner of High Street and Arthurton Road Northcote, 1977 The Carters Arms Hotel stood where Northcote Central is falling down. The Woolworths was the old fashioned kind, with a central rectangular, sloping counter, with staff in the middle. It is now AUSTRALIA’S CHEAPEST CHEMIST. « I can remember going to the Carter’s Arms with my mum and dad and grandparents to see the Hawking Brothers. That's when they had two kinds of music - country and western! » « On the other side of the road from Woolworths on the corner of Arthurton Road was a wine bar. I think it was owned by a footballer. That was in the 1950s. Then I think it became a supermarket after the wine bar closed down, and I think it then became a sports store. The Carters Arms became Totos, and I think Jewels grocers, and I think part of it is now Priceline. When I walked to Helen Street School in 1949, when I was in grade prep known then as the bubs there used to be a Ball and Welch store in High Street near where the newsagency is. If you bought anything the money was put in a container and sent along a wire to a cashier above the ground floor, and then any change was also sent back along the wire. »

Florentine’s Espresso Bar (and 24-Hour Burger and Pool Hall) in High Street, 1976 This bar was better known by locals as Jack’s. « My brother in particular used to love going there with his mates. Do you remember the slot-car racing shop in Thornbury? It was all part of my after-school circuit, that and checking out the second-hand shops for comics and magazines et al. » « What a shame those murals have been painted over. The shop still has the same aluminium door frame and there his still a hole where there was meant to be a cylinder for the lock. I wonder if they’ve plastered over the 3 bullet holes in the back wall that were made in 1974. » « Can’t remember why I have been in there, delivering letters most likely. Think there was a big Gaggia coffee machine just to the left of the camera. Checkout the Salem ad on the door. » « Remember this place well, hung out there a few times in the early 80s, money machines....... Italia Hall receptions was across the road. Sweet memories. » « The memories you invoke! My brother and I used to stop there in the 60s on the way home from the movies. Sometimes play the jukebox if we had any spare change. »

High Street Service Station, 1976 A Total petrol station was opposite the town hall in High Street, Hawaii Pizza was just out of frame to the right « I didn’t know it was called Hawaii Pizza. We used to walk up there with Dad and catch a taxi back. My sister and I used to eat the olives on the way home. Yum!!!!!!! None of our Aussie friends had eaten pizza until they tried it at our place. » « We used to go to Hawaii Pizza on Friday nights after closing time at the Peacock. Otherwise, if we were at the Carters Arms. We’d go to Ulysses for a souvlaki. » « This also used to be a Koori Corroboree site. Apparently this was a good spot as there is a spring that comes out at the top of Rucker’s Hill. It is reportedly the site of the last Koori Corroboree in Victoria. » « The Total servo was run by Andy Mylonas, who later moved to the building next door to what are still his workshop and auto parts. That building was a second-hand furniture auction business beforehand. »


« Woolworths was 383-385 High Street, on the corner of Arthurton Road, Tharratt’s Ladies Wear was 381. Lloyds were next door I think. New stores were built where Lloyds were and Harry Newhouse the Pharmacy and the Tattslotto shops were part of it. All of it owned by the Tharratt Family. Paradise Store was also in that group too. Old Mr. Tharratt was an Ironmonger in the corner store until bought out by Neelands Hardware. Neelands later moved to the corner of Herbert Street and became Neelands Timber and Hardware. Woolworths then became the tenants on High Street. There was also Milburns a little further on they sold ladies wear. A double fronted shop owned by the Scecchitano family. » « Great pub. In the late 70s they were featuring live country music to get the drinkers in. A bit rough and ready but great counter meals. It felt like an old country pub. Beautiful stained glass windows inside that led you from one bar to another. Big bar in the front, just off High St. Just ahead of their time unfortunately. Pity about Northcote Central. One of the area’s most abominable architectural mistakes. » « Good old Woolies were I had my first job after school, behind the lolly counter. Didn’t eat many lollies after working there .. lol. Yes they had counters down the middle and people behind every counter to serve you. The building on the opposite corner was a supermarket back in late 1960’s. On the other corner was a beautiful Commonwealth Bank building. If you went further up High Street after the supermarket was a picture theatre (pantomimes etc.), which was later changed to a bowling alley, then a small arcade. Joff Allen and Sidney Haylen were a couple of old celebs who played there. » « The supermarket on the other corner of Arthurton Rd where the sports store is now was Safeway, I remember going there with mum every fortnight & the bags to pack your shopping in were paper bags with the big red spot on it, after we went shopping, mum would take us across the road to the Carters Arms, we walked up the hall way to the back lounge, there was a kitchen in the hall way where you ordered your meals, it was such a treat to get fried rice there and eat in the lounge. » « Yes, and well before Safeways, there was a wine bar there, in the days when wine bars were bottom of the rung. The Carter’s had some characters in there. I remember Kenny Ireland, showing us proudly the feature brick wall that he and other drinkers had contributed to. I think Frank Mazzei, a barber, is still there, at 372. Don Franich, had an aquarium fish and supplies shop a bit further down - he closed up in 2008/9. »

The corner of High Street and Arthurton Road Northcote, 1977

Florentine’s Espresso Bar (and 24-Hour Burger and Pool Hall) in High Street, 1976

High Street Service Station, 1976


Clarke Street house, 1975 One of the splendid terrace houses in Clarke Street, near the corner of High Street, used to be a boarding house. « Looks like Mr. Tanasoff, who lived at about 188 Clarke St. He told me in the 70s, how as a young man he nearly froze to death somewhere in Europe. He had an old kero heater on the verandah for years with a ‘Heater fir sale’ [sic] sign in hand painted red on it. He told me to make sure to keep warm clothes on me, once when I had been riding in the rain, without a raincoat, I guess. Sometimes as I would come up the hill delivering letters, he would be standing at the gate, yelling at the flats opposite. He would be yelling in a foreign language, and when I arrived, I’d say hi, I’ve got a letter for you (I think he only ever got a pension cheque) and he’d stop yelling and say thanks and I’d say see you later and after I passed by he would start yelling at the flats again. »


« Back in the 60’s there used to be an elderly gentleman who lived in the 2nd house back from that little Street, he used to wear a Turkish woollen hat, the same as Turkish soldiers wore, being young boys just learning about Gallipoli and the ANZACS, we used to give him buggery...then run like rabbits, cause the myth was he was an old soldier and he had a rifle on the porch and was a crack shot....ha ha ha....young, with a lot to learn, eh. »

Stepping out, High Street Northcote, 1976 « These people are my wife’s grandparents. Great past residents of Northcote. » « The protocol is correct too. The gentlemen always walked on the street side of the footpath. » « That Valiant would have been only months old at the time also. » « My wife just confirmed that shop (behind) is items for the dowry – that’s what the sign says. “Items for the Dowry” » « Good to see Northcote men’s fashion hasn’t changed. »

George’s Pressing Service, High Street, 1976 This building is now part of The Wesley Anne Bar. « Don’t know the Wesley Anne, but I know the building, it’s between Mitchell and Bastings, probably about 268 High St, just about next door to the Northcote Auction Rooms which I think were at 270 High, where there’s now a cafe cum performance area, with a pull out window and an out of tune piano opposite the counter. See the big wooden windowsill? I think the shop was smaller in size, as a building, than others further along.... somewhere there was a little walkway connecting a little back street to High - it might have been close to the bluestone lane that went up to Wimble St, where Maurus Transport (Russ Tucker, Maurie Viney and Murray Talmage gave their 1st names to the business. The last 2 were from Deloraine and Elizabeth Town, Tas, ‘near’ where I now live. There was also a clothing factory ‘Wimbledon Clothing’ - a family-run business with some paid workers, I think. » « The previous proprietor of the Bar - Ruckers Bar & Grill - cannot remember his name - did the strip out of the building and found the original brick [one building] and bluestone [the other]. Checking their history it emerged that they were the LOST first public building of Northcote. The original Wesleyan Methodist Church [re-built across the road later] first Council Chamber of the Borough of Northcote. ’tis all in Swift’s History of Northcote – published in 1926. »


St. Josephs Primary School, James Street, 1977

Mayors Park Clifton Hill, 1977

Car crash, St Georges Road, 1977


St. Josephs Primary School, James Street, 1977 « I remember the ol’ tuck shop clearly. Do you remember when lollies were sold from a doorway in the old school hall that was then demolished? I have no idea why they did that. We also played marbles against that brick wall to the left. Great memories! » « We used to cut through the lane that runs past this school, but stopped after we were confronted by a group of aggressive St Josephs students. You certainly don’t want to feel trapped in a lane way by narky kids. » « My brother and I went to St Joes from 1958 to 1964/65. We used to sneak into the back of the police station - from behind the hall and talk to the prisoners in the lock up building “Why are you locked up? Because I was naughty.” “I hope they let you out soon.” Loved it »

Mayors Park Clifton Hill, 1977 Technically this photo was taken just over Merri Creek in Clifton Hill, but girls looked like this in Northcote too. « Moccasins, high waisted Levi’s, sharpie cardigans and a “Dolly” haircut....pure 1977! » « Is the girl on the right wearing Treads?? I was never allowed to have them or a Connie Jumper- I wanted the light blue/dark blue combination for both. No wonder I wasn’t a cool teenager! » « Gosh, yup, I had the treads and the dark “dolly” haircut AND the Connie light blue/dark blue combo with the 2 stripes on the one sleeve and the belt in the back. I actually looked familiarly like the girl on the left. » « The girls who lived next door to me in Thornbury loved AC/DC and taught me how to “Skin-Head” dance - is that the same as “Sharpie Dance? It consisted of waving your hands between your bent knees while bopping around…. »

Car crash, St Georges Road, 1977 P Plates + V8 = Crash, residents of Northcote stand on the St. Georges Road central reservation to investigate the scene of a car accident « Everyone drunk themselves stupid on Saturday night and the resulting carnage was seriously over the top. St Georges Rd has water supply pipes up the middle of it I think. « One engineering challenge was the presence of the main water supply pipeline from Yan Yean Reservoir in the St George’s Road reservation. The cast iron pipes that had been laid underground could not take the weight of an electric tramway being laid on top of them. The result of this limitation was that the double track tramway was constructed on the western carriageway of St George’s Road, which led to the inward bound trams running directly into oncoming traffic for the next seven decades, until the reconstruction of the tramway and crossing of the water pipelines with ground level bridges. »


Epping Line train, 1976

Northcote brickworks quarry, 1977

The United Kingdom Hotel Clifton Hill, 1977


Northcote brickworks quarry, 1977 This subsequently became a tip, and has since been transformed into All Nations Park. « I used to go down & get car parts off old Holdens etc. I guy I knew drove his HR Holden in there & just walked home - Interesting way to get rid of a car. » « As kids, we used to sneak in there and go looking for tadpoles and frogs down the bottom, hard climb back up tho. » « The Park covers the quarry, Northcote Plaza is where the Brick Pressing and Kilns were. I worked on the brick pressers and trolleys to take the bricks into the Kilns on a Saturday and on my holidays from my job as a Tech In Training with the PMG. My cousin Rony (Titch) and his mates worked at the Brick Works full time. I lived in Kellett Street making the quarry straight behind my house, I was there to see the hole extended from Dennis Street to take over the park behind us where we had our Bon Fires every year when I was a kid. Passed this view almost every day for 20 years. » « I used to live next to these brickworks in Dennis Street Northcote back in 1950 to 1963. Went down the bottom of the brickworks once and got caught. On the weekends we would sometimes go inside (through a hole in the fence in the laneway) and look at where they make the bricks under the smoke stacks. Our dog went rabbiting down there also. » « Most of the houses in the streets immediately west of the Plaza as far as Munro Street and some at the top end of Separation Street, near High Street, were built as “Brickies” houses. The houses in Wakanui, Oamaru and Hakatere Streets were mostly built by a guy called Tom Hesketh and his son. Tom built quite a few Brick Veneer homes on the new subdivisions in Rosanna and Macleod. »

Epping Line train, 1976 Reading the War Cry and having a quick ciggie on the train to Northcote. « Smoking was banned on public transport in 1976. One day not long before the ban a schoolmate asked if I wanted a rollie on the train ride home. I was highly suspicious but took it anyway. Lit her up and proceeded to almost choke to death. They were rolled the night before and the tobacco had been saturated with metho then dried out. Everyone thought it was hilarious. Except me. »

« Spoke to my brother, who lives interstate and drives semis, and he reminded me how in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s there was a cave in at the quarry and at least 2 men were killed. Was very tragic. He watched all the action as we lived virtually next door. » « Wow-this is a ‘garden’ now? I should check it out one day - after inhaling bloody fumes and brick-dust and rank tip stank for years and years walking past this eyesore-what a change for the better! » « THAT’S the quarry I remember!! See that track going up to the left, that’s what I went up on in a little bucket type car when I was found at the bottom with my older brother. “We were just looking.” »

The United Kingdom Hotel Clifton Hill, 1977 This is years before it was turned into a clown-endorsed purveyor of junk food. « Old Cliff who lived in Harper Street off Westgarth Street Northcote used to play the Piano there...I remember driving him down there a few times as he did not drive...some good memories » « The United Kingdom Hotel was a real blood bath and not a quiet place for a drink. Something to do with the tiled walls. They could hose it out at night! » « Anybody remember Saturday afternoons? Dads would park cars at the front and bring drinks out to Mum and the kids who had to stay in the car. The prized spots were nose in near the front door. » « Went to “The Pub” many times as a young girl after a VFL match in the 70’s. Childhood memories of inside include plumes of cigarette smoke, gruff voices and carpet that felt 10 inches thick. »


The Northcote Hysterical Society I moved to Northcote from Geelong in 1975 in order to further my art studies at Preston Institute. I was studying photography as part of my Diploma in Fine Art. Lacking money or a car, and inspired by the documentary photography tradition of Eugene Atget, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander and the Bechers, I photographed my local area with an eye for the vernacular and quotidian. I favoured places I regularly walked, or could easily access by public transport. I shot several rolls of b&w film a month until well after I graduated in 1976, right up to 1981, resulting in several thousand images. In 2007 I revisited my contact sheets and realised that in many ways the photos captured a rapidly vanishing world. I started scanning them — a job that took almost five years. I established the Northcote Hysterical Society (a cheeky wordplay referencing the very-serious local Historical Societies) in 2008. Social Media provided a convenient platform to publish the images, and membership has since continued to grow to several thousand. What I couldn’t predict was the rich vein of anecdote and memory that the photos would trigger. I have included a selection of comments, made by members of “The Society”, because the social history revealed through them adds an invaluable dimension to the experience. In 2010 the time was ripe to extend the project, and I launched the Northcote 21st Century Hysterical Society to document the changing face of modern Northcote. Photographs and captions © David Wadelton All comments accompanying the photos were originally posted on the Northcote Hysterical Society Facebook page. A special thank you to the following members of the Northcote Hysterical Society for the anecdotes included here; Adrian Zuzic, Alicia Grogan-Jones, Allie Dawe, Bill North, Bob Dymond, Carmel Duke, Carol Fraser, Cecilia Opie, Chris Kolevski, Christine Hadden, Darryl Kernaghan, David Cunnington, Dominic Calleja, Don Baker, Dorian Jones, Freda Kavanagh, Garry Stannus, Gary Eyre, Grant Beech, Gus Till, Jenny Jones, Jim Tsetsos, Joy Henderson, Julie Dean, Karen Furness, Lyle Allan, Maria Tehan, Marisa Montuoro, Natasha Varga, Peter Panayiotou, Paola Squires, Ray Hehr, Reubin Seamus Williams, Rob Hutchison, Robert Signorini, Rose Walker, Sam Stafford.

First printed on the occasion of the exhibition The documentary take, 1 October – 13 November 2016. Centre for Contemporary Photography 404 George Street Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia +613 9417 1549 Centre for Contemporary Photography is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. Centre for Contemporary Photography is supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments. CCP is a member of CAOs Contemporary Arts Organisations of Australia.

Profile for Centre for Contemporary Photography

The Northcote Hysterical Society  

The Northcote Hysterical Society, by David Wadelton. Published for the exhibition The documentary take. 1 October – 13 November 2016. Centr...

The Northcote Hysterical Society  

The Northcote Hysterical Society, by David Wadelton. Published for the exhibition The documentary take. 1 October – 13 November 2016. Centr...


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